In 1890, Robert Wilcox was elected to the Legislature in the Islands. Following the overthrow of Queen Liliʻuokalani in 1893, the Committee of Safety established the Provisional Government of Hawaiʻi as a temporary government until annexation by the United States.
The Provisional Government convened a constitutional convention and established the Republic of Hawaiʻi on July 4, 1894. The Republic continued to govern the Islands.
From January 6 to January 9, 1895, in a “Counter-Revolution,” patriots of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi and the forces that had overthrown the constitutional Hawaiian monarchy were engaged in a war that consisted of battles on the island of Oʻahu.
It has also been called the Second Wilcox Rebellion of 1895, the Revolution of 1895, the Hawaiian Counter-revolution of 1895, the 1895 Uprising in Hawaiʻi, the Hawaiian Civil War, the 1895 Uprising Against the Provisional Government or the Uprising of 1895.
In their attempt to return Queen Liliʻuokalani to the throne, it was the last major military operation by royalists who opposed the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. The goal of the rebellion failed.
Wilcox was court-martialed and sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted to thirty-five years. While in prison in 1895, Pope Leo XIII granted an annulment of their marriage. The Italian Consul and the Catholic Bishop at Honolulu confirmed this action.
In January, 1896, he was given a conditional pardon and became a free man; later that year, Wilcox married again, this time to Mrs. Theresa Cartwright. In 1898, President Dole gave him a full pardon.
With the establishment of Territorial status in the Islands, Hawaiʻi was eligible to have a non-voting delegate in the US House of Representatives.
Wilcox and others formed the Independent “Home Rule” Party and Wilcox ran as a candidate for the Delegate position (against Republican Samuel Parker and Democrat Prince David Kawānanakoa.) Wilcox won, and served as the first delegate and representative of Hawaiʻi in the US Congress.
Robert W Wilcox – the man who figured so prominently and conspicuously noted, related to the overthrow, “Queen Lili‘uokalani brought these evils upon herself and the country both by her personal corruption, and that of her Government.”
“She surrounded herself with bad advisers, and seemed determined to drive the nation to destruction. Good people had no influence over her whatever, for she indignantly refused to listen to them.”
“I believe that if we can be annexed to the United States, the rights of all of our citizens, and especially those of the native Hawaiians, will be protected more carefully than they have ever been under the monarchy.”
“My countrymen, with the exception of the most intelligent among them, do not understand much about these things. They need to be educated. They have so often been told by designing men that the United States was their enemy that they are naturally suspicious.”
“Politicians who have sought to use the natives simply as so many tools have deceived them. When they understand from the lips of disinterested men and patriots what annexation means, and become acquainted with the benefits that it will bring them, they will be as much in favor of the movement as any of our other classes of citizens.”
“They are naturally somewhat prejudiced against (the Provisional Government), as monarchy is the only form of Government with which they are familiar, but this feeling will quickly wear away as the Hawaiians are led to see that the Government is friendly to them and their interests. They already have confidence in the integrity and patriotism of President Dole.”
“I have repeatedly (advocated annexation to the United States) in public meetings held in this city. … but I am compelled to move cautiously or I shall lose my influence over them. I believe I am doing a good work by constantly conversing with them on the subject.
“I have told my countrymen that the monarchy is gone forever, and when they ask me what is the best thing to follow it I tell them annexation, and I firmly believe that in a very short time every Hawaiian will be in favor of that step.” (Wilcox interview with Hoes; Reports of Committees of the Senate of the United States, 1893-1894)
“Washington. July 3 (1901). Delegate Wilcox, of Hawaii, announces here that at the very opening of the next session of Congress in December he will introduce a bill granting statehood to the territory of Hawaii. Mr. Wilcox says that he does not fully expect that the bill will become a law next winter, but he predicts early statehood for the territory.”
“‘Of course I realize,’ says Mr. Wilcox, ‘that this proposition will meet with opposition on the ground that we have but recently been incorporated Into a territory and that we should wait, but I shall Introduce the bill just the same and commence working upon it.’”
“Mr. Wilcox also says that he is going to introduce a bill to provide for the laying of a cable between Honolulu and San Francisco as soon as Congress meets. There are several bills of that sort already on tap, but another will do little harm.”
“The statehood bill that Mr. Wilcox says he is going to bring forward will result In nothing but a discussion of the political conditions In Hawaii. There is no chance whatever that during the term for which Mr. Wilcox has been elected to sit in Congress he can get a statehood bill through for the territory.”
“Arizona and New Mexico have for years been trying for statehood, and they are today apparently as far from it as ever, although the Congressional committees have again and again recommended the passage of the bills.”
“In the case of Hawaii more objections than Mr. Wilcox has mentioned will be raised. I remember that before the Hawaiian annexation resolution was passed Senator Hoar, of Massachusetts, went to the White House one day and told the President that he would let that resolution go through if it could be understood that Hawaii should not be admitted into the Union as a State.”
“Hoar wanted that incorporated into the annexation resolution. This could not be done, because It would have been unconstitutional. But the promise was then and there given that if Hawaii should apply for statehood she would be refused for years to come, and that is the general understanding of the matter In Washington.”
“Expansion would not have taken place on so broad a scale if it had been understood that an application would so soon come from one of the island possessions for Statehood. Porto Rico is almost possibly not quite as well qualified for statehood as is Hawaii.”
“The island of Luzon with the city of Manila, is about as well qualified from the standpoint of general civilization and enlightenment as is Hawaii. The bars will not be let down for a long time to come to any of these territories.”
“It will take a very long probationary period to qualify the Territory of Hawaii for statehood in the minds of the American government officials. The recent political dildoes that have been cut there do not help the case.”
“Dole and his outfit have put Hawaii fifty years further from statehood than it was on the day that Congress finally passed a resolution annexing the Islands to the United States. Their continuation in office there for a few years more will put Hawaii everlastingly outside the pale of American political civilization.”
“The Administration thought when It annexed Hawaii, that it had got an asset: it finds that with Dole thrown in, Hawaii is a political liability. E. S. L.” (Honolulu Republican, July 17, 1901)
“What we are all looking forward to is Statehood and anything that will lead toward that end must be helped along by us. We will not mind much about the Governor then for it will be the people who will be paramount.” (Delegate Wilcox’s Impassioned Address to Hawaiians, The Independent, July 10, 1902)
Wilcox ran for re-election, but lost to Republican Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole Piʻikoi (Prince Kūhiō served from 1903 until his death in 1922.)
Wilcox returned to Washington to finish out his term (November 6, 1900 to March 3, 1903,) but was very ill. He came back to Hawaiʻi in 1903, and died October 26, 1903. He is buried in the Catholic cemetery on King Street.